Tag Archives: culture

Lessons From the Past

I’ve recently become interested in Chinese history, particularly the Second Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945. The unity and strategies of the Chinese people are truly admirable–despite their political differences, they still came together against one enemy: the Japanese. It’s something that Black people can really learn from. Chinese traditions and history runs deep, and these people know their culture. Unlike Black people, whose connection to their origins has been severed. It truly shows how important it is to know and honour our African traditions, and history. It is Chinese pride that kept the Chinese fighting stubbornly enough to gain allied help. It is African pride that should unite us all–and keep us fighting–for Black liberation.

We are so fragmented, all pitched against the other. Africans against West Indians, Black Americans against immigrant Black, etc. When will we understand we are all one and that we have a common oppressor? Of course, many Black people have risen to wealth, but unless the Black nations are liberated–Black people are oppressed. And there is no liberation without unity. You can say what you want about a Chinese person–but they have been taught to be proud of their Chinese heritage. And you will see Chinese helping Chinese. You will see the Chinese ready to fight for China. It’s time that Africans learn from the East.

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Black Joy

Living in a small, white racist town has really made me contain my joy. Anytime, I leave my house–it’s usually with a screw face as I encounter beat up jeeps with Confederation flags and creepy white men staring at me in dark shades with fatigue-print caps on. Wherever I go, people stare. I’m not from ’round here. But guess what? I’m here and I’m about to reclaim my ability to express the natural emotion of happiness and joy.

I experience joy when I see (and especially if I get to meet) other Black people in my town, or wherever I happen to be. A  nod of acknowledgment or a “good morning” can set a sista on a brightened journey. No lie. I love when I feel my hair is doing all the talking for me when my lips are too fed up. Unapologetic, KINKY coily hair is beautiful ART.  I feel this so confidently that I feel joyous even in a mediocre hairdo. I experience joy when I maintain class, grace, humility, patience in any situation. I feel my best self emerging and growing. This brings me joy. It brings me joy to walk with a group of Black children, one of them usually being my own. It brings me joy to see my son being himself–wild, coily hair out proud and everything!

It brings me joy to exclusively date Black men and have nothing but loyalty, respect and openness with them. It brings me  joy to be treated like a queen by a Black man–privately and publicly. It brings me joy to view, touch and caress melanated skin. This is almost like therapy! It brings me joy to catch a joke in Patois from my grandma, or to piss the neighbours off when I’m burning my browning before I cook stew or curry (it’s not my fault I use…flavour). It also brings me joy to share a plate of curry with my neighbours, and show them that yes–Black people do care about recycling and putting out the right decorations at the right time of the year. *roll of eyes*

I’ve lost my ability to conceal my joy because I’m expected to be a caricature of suffering and hostility. I find myself grinning, beaming and letting the excitement enter my voice wherever I am. I’m able to let the light shine in my eyes when I’m truly appeased, laugh at myself at the ice rink or the store and stand with my head and my uniquely beautiful coily hair tall. If you want a disgruntled, angry Black female–that isn’t going to be me. I’ve got too much joy because every day I wake up feeling blessed! I’m not going to let someone decide there is no space for happy, carefree Black people. I’m coming for that space, and it’s going to be a magical space. 3

Our Own Culture

Last night, I was Googling reviews for random baby products like co-sleepers, baby carriers and high chairs. The fact baby carriers like Ergo and Beco originate from African mothers carrying their children on their back in cloth fabric–I didn’t see even one Black family on any of my Google searches. I didn’t see one, cute little chocolate baby featured on any of the baby clothing websites I checked out locally in my city, nation-wide and then Internet-wide. After an exhaustive search, I did see a cute Black tot wearing an adorable onesie on Mini Mioche. Why weren’t Black children being featured in other ads like Minimoc and Wee Woolies–two brands I adore?

I realized when I noticed the designs–woodland creatures, fairies and mute geometric shapes on neutral colours–that this is their visual of childhood style. And it probably ties in with their own Irish, German, British, etc folklore. When you buy organic, wooden Waldorf toys for your child–you will get white fairies and white gnomes. I thought infancy and childhood should really be the same for every child, but these companies don’t. They are catering to white families. Good for them!

We need not be disheartened. Black culture is growing, growing, growing like a baby in utero! I made a list of Black-owned businesses selling everything I was looking for from organic wooden toys to moccasins and came up with a long, long list and similar prices–but with our own culture stamped right in it. Kente print, mudcloth, dashikis–you name it–and there they were. Bamboo toys from Africa–even African-print cloth diapers! It was difficult to find a Black-owned baby carrier company, but Boba did offer African-inspired prints (for a limited time) for their wraps. I’ve seen mothers customize their regular baby carriers with African print cloth so really, we just need to do what we’ve been doing. Being creative, innovative and sticking to our culture because there’s no reason to sidestep it for unicorns and moose when we have most beautiful, ancient  continent in the world as our origin!

African Relations with the Diaspora

We, as Black people, can only reach liberation by uniting. Colourism, tribal feuds and classism are only some of the things that are dividing us and having some Black people look down their nose at others.

I read some comments on a Naija forum about Africans studying abroad feeling horror when associated with Black Americans. To be honest,  I have never met a Black American.  I’m a Canadian- born woman with parents from the Caribbean.

Some of the viewpoints of Africans in the Motherland is that we are ignorant,  no-good Blacks whose history started with slavery and we think we are better than Africans because of our citizenship. We are all gangbangers and welfare recipients who can’t get out of poverty because we are lazy.

Meanwhile,  many people  (including  myself) in the Diaspora was taught to believe Africa is a place of cannibalistic savages, extreme poverty and sexism with high rates of female illiteracy, and the home of The Lion King. We considered ourselves superior and some of us even mocked thick African accents and incomprehensible names to our subjugated minds.

However,  the truth is, Blacks in the Diaspora originated from Africa. We are your sisters and brothers taken from your village, your country, your continent.  There is no need to look down on us because some of us don’t have the same drive to success as Contintental Africans. There is no need for us to look down on you for what we may consider to be less civilized ways of living.

We need a better future for Black people everywhere- -from Tokyo to London to Accra. We need to stop listening to this divisive stereotypes and embrace each other.  Africans are not taught the history of the Diaspora,  and we are not taught the history of Africa. Both histories are integrated and the only way to stop the African- Diasporan divide is to have dialogue and find out similarities.  The Diasporan community has an obligation to learn about African culture and history and values,  politics, art, literature- -everything.  And Africans would be wise to see a powerful ally if they could just empathize and realize that we need each other because we ARE each other  .

Religion vs Revolution

I joined a church this summer after being invited by my Kenyan hair braider. She is in fire for the Lord, and I only went because we live in a racist, rural town and I was desperate to see Black faces. There were Black children for my son to interact with, and not only were the pews filled with Kente cloth and dashiki-clad families, the pastor was Jamaican.

I’m from a Christian family, like most West Indians but as an adult I am highly critical of the church and it’s role in maintaining Black oppression. The church could be a revolutionary place. But instead of touching on freedom from white supremacy, it only speaks of a better life in Heaven…not on this earth. Great way to pacify the masses, pastor.

However, in the church there is Black pride. There are more married Black families and college students. There are more natural hairdos. There is more respect for one another. So I do not dismiss the church as a place for revolutionary work. Perhaps you can meet a compatriot there, a future spouse or an acquaintance who furthers your economic growth. And if not, it never hurts to have God on your side!

Some Things Never Change

There will always be that white man in the grocery store with that stare.

There will be always be that one Black leader rising from the ashes of the fire of misery of his country.

There will always be that Black businessman in the Mercedes-Benz with a white wife.

Some things never change.

 

There will always be the surprised glances at your impeccable English.

There will always be the sniggling at your heavy, magnificent African name.

There will always be suspicious ogling at her hijab.

Some things never change.

 

There will always be the white elderly woman who clutches her purse tighter as you walk by.

There will always be young white men who view your female Black body licentiously.

There will always be African woman who wear their gele proudly and dance with the slopes and arcs of the earth in their bones, the light of the stars in their eyes.

Some things will never change.

 

There will always be a white leader hellbent on destroying equality and liberty, and the path to unity and peace in the name of greed and power. Their names just change over time.

There will always be a Black boy who dreams of becoming a doctor. And makes it.

There will always be the future of freedom in the womb of our women.

Some things will never change.

Fragile Like China

LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

The dating game is tough when you’re single. I know it. Throw in being a single parent, or just arriving from another country, or emerging as a broke graduate–there’s always another aspect to make it difficult. But one thing that is worth it is the outcome: Black love. If you aren’t on the Black love train yet, get on it. It’s worth the ride and destination. It’s going to lead you towards a new consciousness, a new awareness of the collective Black people, unity and power. If you are striving for a Caucasian partner as the highest prize, then you are not striving high enough, my friend.

I am in a new relationship (early dating phase) with my young king. That new Black love is not just new because he’s someone I’m getting to know, but it’s new because there is a stratum of significance that is occurring as two Black people meet and fall in love. I am treating this relationship, guarding this newfound love like delicate china. I am peeling back the layers of lies, of distrust and inferiority that Western culture has placed on the Black man to reveal the beauty, the truth and the power of the Black man. And indeed, he is all these things and more.

We as queens have to have our king’s backs, and have them pick us up and regard us as nothing less than royalty. We need to hold our heads up high and regard each other in the highest calibre. When we decide that we want nothing less than a Black queen or king, when we begin to emanate that respect and admiration for our own people then that love will soon follow. And if the brother you are with, or sister now isn’t on the same wavelengths as you; there is someone out there waiting for you who will love you and bring out the queen or king in you. Don’t settle for anything less!

 

blacl-love